Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of The Worlds, one of the most successful arena spectaculars of recent times, returns with “The New Generation” worldwide tour in November 2012, it was announced this morning by Jeff Wayne and Liam Neeson at a press conference at One Marylebone in London.
Launched in conjunction with Sony Music, Live Nation and SJM Concerts, the re-imagined staging of the acclaimed production will feature groundbreaking technological advancements and the introduction of Liam Neeson starring as the story’s leading character in 3D holography. The return of the tour will follow the release of a double album featuring a new interpretation of Jeff Wayne’s production, which has sold over 15 million double albums for Sony since its original release.
Liam Neeson joins the cast as George Herbert, The Journalist, in a role made famous by Richard Burton on the original recording and in the arena shows. Burton’s holographic head had appeared in the show since 2006, using the original narration from Jeff Wayne’s classic 1978 album, a sound that has lived long in the memory and deep in the psyche of generations who have heard it. Neeson will be seen in three ways: appearing as a world first full body hologram seen on stage interacting with live actors; as an 11-foot high holographic head and shoulders hovering above the stage; and within the 2 hours of cutting edge CGI animation projected onto the incredible 100 foot wide ‘Animation Wall’ which, along with a 36-piece orchestra, and the ‘Black Smoke Band’ adds a true epic scale to the production.
Over the years, Wayne was often asked how he would approach composing and producing The War of The Worlds in today’s world, rather than the era of the mid 1970s, when disco was king of the dance floor, punk was the revolutionary music of the day and science fiction was being re-discovered in the movies and on TV. He always answered “why fix what isn’t broken?” He was proud of the work and especially of all those who had contributed their varied talents to bring it to life: David Essex, Moody Blues’ Justin Hayward, Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott, Manfred Mann’s Chris Thompson, Julie Covington, and of course, Richard Burton. What Jeff never predicted was the extraordinary life his musical interpretation of HG Wells’ visionary and dark Victorian tale would have. Now some 33 years later as Jeff approaches his sixth year of touring with The War of The Worlds – Alive on Stage! and with an animated feature film now in development, this same question kept returning.
“After long consideration I concluded that for future productions, some of HG Wells’ storylines and characters should be re-explored,” noted Jeff. “It would also give me the chance to re-interpret my compositions with the production techniques of today, which is exciting from a musician’s point of view.”
“But perhaps the greatest opportunity was revisiting the main character of George Herbert, The Journalist who ‘threads’ the story together. And while it may have been the greatest opportunity, it was also the hardest decision to make. I knew that with a re-developed storyline, a new Journalist would need to be sought as Richard Burton’s original performance was finite. Whoever that person might turn out to be, he would have to be of no less stature and quality of voice than that of Richard – an incredibly tough act to follow. But once again I have been fortunate, and have attracted Liam Neeson to these New Generation productions. He has, so-to-speak, been handed the ‘baton’ from Richard Burton, and I believe audiences and listeners alike will find Liam’s interpretation no less compelling.”
By good fortune, Liam is a huge fan of the original album, having purchased it when it was first released in 1978. And ironically, as the ‘new kid on the block’, he acted in a mini TV series on what turned out to be one of Richard Burton’s last roles before his untimely passing.
Jeff Wayne’s original recording of his musical version of War of the Worlds was released by CBS Records in 1978 and grew into a true classic, acquiring multiple generations of devotees and receiving critical acclaim. The release spent over 330 weeks in the UK album charts, scored two international hit singles (“Forever Autumn” and “The Eve of the War”) and won two prestigious UK Ivor Novello Awards, the US Best Recording in Science Fiction and Fantasy (the judges included Alfred Hitchcock, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg), as well as winning for Jeff, Classic Rock’s ‘Showman of The Year’ Award. The new double CD being released in June 2012 will recapture the magic including all of the additions to the new production.
The international arena tour will commence in November of 2012 with dates to be scheduled in the U.S. for the first time ever. The tour will then head to the U.K. on December 1, 2012. Tickets for the U.K. dates will go on sale Friday, November 25, 2011.